Responding to the Census
The 2020 Census is happening now. You can complete your questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail. Help shape your future, and your community’s future, by responding to the 2020 Census.
Your Invitation To Respond.
Homes will begin receiving their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12-20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.
The 2020 Census is for everyone.
During this time frame, some homes will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail when your invitation to respond arrives.
How To Respond
The 2020 Census will ask a few simple questions about you and everyone who is or will be living with you on April 1, 2020.
For the first time, you can choose to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail. Find out more about each of these methods below:
Please note that if you are responding online, you must complete the census in one sitting, as you don’t have the ability to save your progress. See the questions the census asks here.
If you do not receive an invitation to respond from the Census Bureau, you may respond online or visit our Contact Us page to call our phone line.
Who Should Respond
The 2020 Census counts everyone living in the United States and its five territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
One person should respond for each home. That person must be at least 15 years old. They should live in the home or place of residence themselves and know general information about each person living there. (For more information, visit Questions Asked.)
Please note: If you live in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, the process for completing the census will be 100% paper-based and led by Census takers. Visit Counting the Island Areas for more information.
In mid-March, homes across the country began receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.
Counting every person living in the United States is a massive undertaking, and efforts begin years in advance. Here’s a look at some of the key dates along the way:
- January 21: The U.S. Census Bureau started counting the population in remote Alaska. The count officially began in the rural Alaskan village of Toksook Bay.
- March 12 – 20: Households began receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.
- March 30 – April 1: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days. As part of this process, the Census Bureau counts people in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.
- April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. When you respond to the census, you’ll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
- April: Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers will also begin following up with households that have not yet responded in areas that include off-campus housing, where residents are not counted in groups.
- May – July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
- December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.
- March 31: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.
Here are some of the efforts completed in 2019:
- January – September: The Census Bureau opened more than 200 area census offices across the country. These offices support and manage the census takers who work all over the country to conduct the census.
- August – October: Census takers visited areas that have experienced a lot of change and growth to ensure that the Census Bureau’s address list is up to date. This process is called address canvassing, and it helps to ensure that everyone receives an invitation to participate in the census.
Census Day 2020
April 1 is Census Day, a key reference date for the 2020 Census. When completing the census, you will include everyone living in your home on April 1, 2020. Census Day will be celebrated with events across the country.
Why We Conduct This Count
The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.
The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.
It’s also in the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2, mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.
Challenge Your Friends
You can inspire others. Tell everyone—your friends and family, neighbors and co-workers—that you will complete the census, and that they should respond now, too!
Census results have an impact on planning and funding for health clinics and highways, fire departments and disaster response, education programs such as Head Start and college tuition assistance, and so much more.
For more information visit: https://2020census.gov/